“I am confident that the perspectives presented below provide not just a whiff of air of thoughts and ideas, but a fresh cocktail of perspectives brewed from the cradle years, through many hours of watching videos, playing video games, play-stations, solitaire, Minecraft, countless hours of watching the theatrics of Optimus Prime-King of the Transformers of planet Cybertron and his arch enemy, Megatron, and the scintillating Fortnite and similar games. During all of these e-formative years, these young researchers were oblivious to the stealth and captivating influence of artificial intelligence in its formative years. They grew up with it, they are twins, so to speak.
Their digital-world experiences are incomparable and a far cry to and from my world experiences growing up … physically and otherwise.
Psychology and Ethics:
Chelsea, a graduate of psychology and ethics
The unregulated use of AI in psychological research and practice can have both operational and ethical implications. On an operational level, unregulated AI may lead to inaccurate or biased results, as well as the potential for misuse or abuse. Ethically, unregulated AI may threaten privacy, autonomy, and dignity, particularly in vulnerable populations.
AI is already changing the landscape of social media and online communication. It can be used for a variety of tasks, from content creation to targeted advertising to content moderation. AI can also analyse user data and provide insights into human behaviour and preferences. Social media such as Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok monitor civilians and have algorithms that are completely unique to each individual using these apps. So, say for instance if an individual is down and depressed, they search for quotes or videos related to that. However, the AI behind the application pushes those videos and images to that individual’s feed. Making it impossible to escape from what they see.
The Thabo Bester-Dr Nandipa Magudumana prison escape saga and all-encompassing soapie may provide insights into human behaviour and the psychological factors that contribute to criminal activity. However, it is important to consider the ethical implications of using such data, particularly in terms of privacy and confidentiality. One thing to note is that the SAPS, as well as the intelligence community, were able to track Thabo Bester and Dr. Nandipa through the use of social media. Additionally, finding missing or implicated individuals is becoming a lot easier with the use of AI, drones, and CCTV footage.
In the field of intelligence gathering, the use of AI can provide valuable insights into potential threats and risks. However, it is important to balance the benefits of AI with the potential risks to privacy and civil liberties. This is evident in drones being used to spy on civilian targets and other foreign nations, for that particular state’s benefit. Furthermore, that is how the Americans were able to track down and eliminate Bin Ladin. Additionally, the use of AI in intelligence gathering should be subject to ethical standards and regulations to ensure that it is used responsibly and in the public interest. That is why it’s important to create legislation that will help improve the AI element in intelligence gathering, without infringing on human rights.
Sihlangu, a UCT student in economics confirms the AI fears and dangers of the Chatbot algorithm expressed in the previous discussion through Sibiya’s “little angels”:
For years analysts and intellectuals have prophesized the day that humans create and integrate AI into society. That time is upon us, as a 2nd-year student studying a B Soc Sci in politics and economics at UCT, I have already witnessed the consequences of AI manifest themselves in academia. Some students have begun using AI as a tool to aid them in academic assignments but is this ethical?
A chatbot is an artificial intelligence language model capable of answering questions with human quality. This AI model has proved to be disruptive to academia as it is capable of formulating essays, summaries, and even code in a matter of mere seconds. Universities and institutions alike have had to rethink the way they approach academic ordinances such as plagiarism and fair competition. The corrupt usage of AI in educational environments can negate the authenticity of the learning process and allow for fraudulently obtained remuneration. However, nothing is ever black and white, the perception of AI in a manicheastic sense of good and evil fails to acknowledge the nuance of the matter. AI is not the inevitable doom we make it out to be. If measured steps are taken to pre-emptively regulate the space, then we can better configure the development of AI to work in synergy with broader human objectives.
Kei, is a practitioner of IT and a seasoned Graphic designer based in South Hills, Alberton.
Unregulated AI presents several challenges in our times, particularly in information systems.
These challenges include, but are not limited to:
Bias and discrimination: AI systems can inherit and perpetuate biases present in the training data. This can lead to discrimination and unfair treatment of certain groups or individuals, especially when used in sensitive areas like hiring, lending, and law enforcement.
Privacy invasion: AI-driven systems can infringe on personal privacy by collecting, analysing, and potentially misusing personal data without adequate consent or regulation.
Misinformation and manipulation: AI-generated content, such as deepfakes, can spread misinformation and manipulate public opinion, posing a threat to democracy and social stability.
Security risks: Unregulated AI can be exploited by malicious actors to launch cyberattacks, automate hacking, and circumvent security measures, leading to increased vulnerabilities in information systems.
Lack of accountability: Without clear regulations, determining liability for AI-caused harms can be challenging. This can result in a lack of redress for victims and insufficient incentives for developers to prioritize safety and fairness.
Job displacement: Automation driven by AI advancements could lead to significant job displacement across various industries. Without proper regulation and support, this may exacerbate income inequality and social unrest.
Ethical concerns: Unregulated AI can raise ethical issues, such as the potential for AI-driven surveillance, autonomous weapons, and the manipulation of human emotions for profit.
The concentration of power: The rapid development of AI can lead to a concentration of power in the hands of a few tech giants, limiting competition, and innovation, and potentially undermining democratic values.
Digital divide: The lack of regulation may exacerbate the digital divide by creating disparities in access to AI technologies and their benefits, further marginalizing disadvantaged communities.
Runaway AI: Unregulated AI development can result in a competitive race without adequate safety precautions, leading to the possibility of building super-intelligent systems that are misaligned with human values and may cause unintended consequences.
Debbie, a final year LLB student at Unisa, based in President Ridge in Randburg
Like all other legal frameworks of the world, our law always lags behind the human train of development, particularly in science, technology, and innovation. Law is, after all, a mechanism to bring order in a rather chaotic environment, and by this logic, things have to be chaotic and disorderly first, before the legislative chains of order are called upon to arrest chaos.
It is interesting to underscore that the blood life of artificial intelligence is massive information data that humans have to feed into its program to kick in its algorithms into an organic mechanism. The time is not yet with us, nor will ever come, I pray, when AI algorithmic-driven machines will mutate and truly become homo sapiens with capacities to give birth to their own offspring outside the genius of human intelligence. Artificial Intelligence like its predecessors in the tribe of information systems has brought similar challenges into our legal system in terms of control and monitoring. According to Celeste Snyders, there is currently no legislation dealing with AI and its possible issues .
Fortunately for us in South Africa, the Protection of Personal Information Act of 2013 which governs the law of data protection and privacy; the right to privacy as protected in terms of both our common law and in sec 14 of the Constitution of the Republic, 1996; the Electronic Communications and Transaction Act (of 2002 and the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic give us a working platform to arrest the unbridled machinations of artificial intelligence and its sister algorithms, such as is prevalent in combatting Spam and cybercrimes.
The Good News: Reasonableness, fairness, and justice:
However, we need to remind ourselves that since the genesis of man, and the Ancient of Day’s noble command to humanity to conquer the world, we have been doing exactly that.
The good news is that, where the limits of reasonableness, fairness, and justice seemed to have been breached, humanity’s good-natured spirit has sprung up in defense of the breach, and quickly corrected the imbalance to bring the human system back to its intended equilibrium. This has been done in two ways, namely
(i) By creating counter-measures to neutralise the imbalance,
(ii) to create alternative supporting, encompassing, and containing systems to bring back the equilibrium to its state of reasonableness, fairness, and justice.
What happened to humanity when the following innovations overwhelm our existing and prevailing paradigms then?
Thamsanqa Sibiya of Siza Health puts the concepts of reasonableness, fairness, and justice into context when he says
“Knowing what I know, despite the downside of AI, the goodwill surpasses the bad and we will be better off with AI advancement. Human beings will in the future create checks and balances to make sure that the risks are minimised as we have seen with pollution such as sound, noise, heat, etc. where parameters have been put in place to minimise the impact. If we use AI for the good, many things will be achieved, we could eliminate global poverty, eliminate diseases, advance education, and deal with human rights issues which we are not able to tackle right now as well as with human existentialism in general. If we do not re-invent social safety net structures that currently exist, and put new policies and guidelines in place on how to use AI for the good of humankind then we cannot blame AI when people use it in pursuit of power.”
Malunga echoes Sibiya’s call for strict control developed through policy formulation for the public good when the community of AI developers acts contra bonos mores.
To address these challenges, it is essential to create a balanced regulatory framework that promotes AI innovation while addressing the potential risks and ensuring that the benefits are fairly distributed. This requires international cooperation, public-private partnerships, and the involvement of diverse stakeholders, including academia, industry, and civil society.
Joe Cucuzza, Director and principal at industryC2I, in his The Pace of Innovation: 1800-2020, identifies six (6)m cycles or waves of innovation in human history known to date.
1st wave: Iron, Water power, Mechanisation, and Textiles
2nd wave: Steel, Steam power, Railroad, and Cotton
3rd wave: Electricity, Chemicals, and Internal combustion engine
4th wave: Petrochemicals, Electronics, Aviation, Space/GPS
5th wave: Digital networks, Biotechnology, Software, IT
6th wave: Sustainability, Radical resource productivity, Whole system design, green chemistry, Industrial ecology, Renewable energy, Nanotechnology, and AI
The answer is simple. More people died of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 1918 influenza, and other natural disasters, only to be eclipsed by our own-manmade disasters when we breached the limits of systems reliability in Chernobyl, Bhopal, Fukushima-Daichi, including our own Jagersfontein mine dams (tailings storage facilities) collapse compared to those who might have died because of new waves of innovation that were unleashed onto the unsuspecting humanity.
Why, is the question? The imbalance-corrective genius of humanity itself kicks in, to bring back the run-away innovative systems to the state of equilibrium, to achieve reasonableness, fairness, and justice pillars of human existence, without which, I believe, humanity will perish.
Obviously, the purpose of this article is not to extol the benefits of AI, which are widely known, but to send a clarion call of creating a balance between the benefits and disadvantages of innovation we seek to master and introduce to our communities in pursuit of better, faster, cheaper and robust quality products and processes for their benefit of humankind.
Every story, as they say, has three sides: my story, your story, and the real story as espoused through application and implementation on the ground. Therefore, it would have been disingenuous of me to applaud the clarion call of fear and caution on AI, without highlighting the noble perceived benefits of AI and other milestones of human progress, of which Geoffrey Hinton, Sir Ernest Rutherford, Robert Oppenheimer, and other numerous members of the community of pioneers in science, technology, and business have achieved within the fleeting realm of reasonableness, fairness, and justice.
We need not worry beyond putting our thinking caps again, resting on the knowledge of how our forebears have managed to rise above the problems when faced with similarly complex and scary situations, reminiscent of World (I & II) challenges in a nuclear arms race, pandemics, stock market crashes, natural and human-made disasters and others not mentioned here in this article.
Let us remain assured that the proud ‘waves of AI engineered by human intelligence’ shall also be stayed.”
Author: Dr Ntokozo Mthembu
Dr Ntokozo Mthembu is a director and principal professional engineering consultant for Siana Consulting, a director of Elami Ronto Investments, Aonyx Holdings, Cape Catalytix (Pty) Ltd., an international reviewer of research manuscripts for EMJ, and a member of the Elsevier Advisory Panel.
- Celeste Snyders. ‘Unpacking the Legal Side of Artificial Intelligence | Tech Law, Jun1, 2022. <https//www.schoemanlw.co.za> Accessed 9 May 2023.
- United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, 1996
- Personal correspondence on the submission of new manuscripts to PICMET’s “Technology Mining – Text Analytics for Evidence-Based Foresight”. 10 May 2023.
- https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/pace-innovation-1800-2020-joe-cucuzza-gaicd-fausimm-/ November 23, 2020. (Accessed 9 May 2023)
- Sheree Bega. ‘Jagersfontein: How mine dams collapse’ ENVIRONMENT/ 12 SEP 2022. (Accessed 9 May 2023)